NANAIMO — Less than two months after receiving a conditional discharge for violently stabbing a friend, a Qualicum Beach man is accused of an unprovoked attack on an elderly man.
Garrett Ryan Bruce, 31, is in custody facing a new charge of assault related to an alleged incident on Feb. 24 at a Victoria Legion.
Branch 127 president and retired Victoria police officer Rudy Vermaning, 70, said they hosted a sold out private function that night and a young man was trying to come inside. Vermaning told NanaimoNewsNOW he was quietly speaking to the man, who did not seem agitated at all, telling him it was a member's function and he would have to come back another time.
"All of a sudden I was struck in the head...I was informed it was a headbutt. I wound up flat on my back on the floor, received a small cut to the lip and landed on my tailbone which was still sore two weeks after."
Vermaning said the person the suspect was speaking to before him was about 95-years-old. "If he'd been struck, there could have been severe consequences."
Bruce was found not criminally responsible due to mental disorder for an unprovoked attack on a friend outside a French Creek pub in January 2017. The victim in that attack was left with a punctured lung and spinal fracture from multiple stab wounds.
Following the not criminally responsible finding, the BC Review Board gave Bruce a conditional discharge requiring, among other things, he live under "close supervision" at a group home in Nanaimo called Oasis House.
The Board decided not to keep Bruce in custody at a mental health facility despite their finding he "presents a significant threat to the safety of the public" due to a diagnosis of schizophrenia, substance abuse and inconsistency in taking medication.
"When psychotic, he has a proclivity to carry a knife to protect himself and has demonstrated a willingness to use it," the Board's decision said.
A psychiatrist told the Board there was a "real and foreseeable" risk that Bruce "would act on paranoid beliefs in a violent manner."
However, the doctor ultimately recommended the conditional discharge, citing Bruce achieving four months of sobriety, working full-time and taking his medication as the only reasons why.
The Board told NanaimoNewsNOW it's unclear how or why Bruce was in Victoria when the alleged attack happened, considering he was supposed to be living under supervised circumstances in Nanaimo.
Bruce is being held at a psychiatric facility in Port Coquitlam and will have an upcoming hearing with the Board.
On Twitter: @domabassi
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